Special episode – UK Games Expo seminar 2017


UK Games Expo Seminar 2017

Paul attended the UK Games Expo in Birmingham recently. While he was there, he took part in a seminar about running horror games, with Mike Mason and Lynne Hardy. Unfortunately, neither Matt nor Scott could make it, but we were there in spirit.

If you squint hard enough, you can see our astral forms pulling faces behind Paul’s back.

We recently bought a Zoom H6 Handy Recorder to make it easier for us to record field pieces at conventions. This seminar was its first official outing and we were rather pleased with the results. Expect to hear more from it when we visit Necronomicon in Providence later this year.


Posted in Call of Cthulhu, Gaming Conventions, Roleplaying Games, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias | 4 Comments

Episode 107 – The Good Friends play some non-player characters


Portraying Memorable Non-Player Characters

We’re back and we’re putting on silly voices, adopting exaggerated mannerisms and making life as miserable as possible for the player characters. In other words, we’re playing NPCs. This is the follow-up to our discussion last episode about creating memorable non-player characters. Now we’re offering advice on how to bring these NPCs to life at the gaming table.

Some gaming tables are better suited to this than others.

Ideally, portraying NPCs should involve shifts of accent, mannerisms, body language and speech patterns. Not everyone has the skills necessary to do all these things, however. Most GMs at least have some archetypes that they can fall back on, but it is rare to find one who is a truly gifted mimic or trained actor. With this in mind, we offer tips about portraying NPCs for GMs of all skill levels.

Most GMs would be happy with a dozen character types to call upon. Having a thousand faces just seems greedy.

When discussing how powerful NPCs could overshadow player characters, we mention of the excellent web comic, DM of the Rings. We seem to remember that Gandalf was a bit like this in the strip. That said, it is around 10 years since any of us read it, so maybe we’re misremembering. Even if we are, the comic is still well worth reading.

In the news segment, we mention that Now We Are The Sons Of God, Scott’s Victorian Cthulhu Dark mini-campaign, is now an offical a stretch goal for the Cthulhu Dark Kickstarter. If you’re reading this on the day the episode drops, you still have three days to back it if you’d like to see this happen.

We also mention Danial Carroll’s blog, Brawl of Cthulhu, where he delves into the monsters of the Mythos. You can find over 100 entries there, offering ideas about how to make use of all these beasties.

Speaking of sanity-blasting horrors beyond human comprehension, we sing again in this episode. Two generous souls have offered up their names to the blasphemous altar of our voices, so we sing their praises. Or croak them. Or something. In case this needs explanation, when someone backs us on Patreon at the $5 level, this is how we thank them. We are not good people.

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Episode 106 – The Good Friends create some non-player characters


Creating Memorable Non-Player Characters

We’re back and we’re poring over stat blocks, writing up physical descriptions and searching the internet for names. This is the first of two episodes about NPCs. Our focus this time is on how we create non-player characters that our players will remember (probably with muttered curses) for years to come. Next episode delves into techniques for bringing these characters to life at the gaming table.

We make no guarantees about freshness.

Non-player characters are arguably the most important and versatile tool available to GMs. They allow us to give out information, provide conflict, introduce comic relief or generally be dicks to our players. Most importantly, they allow us to do these things in character. It’s always nice to have a chance to do some roleplaying in a roleplaying game!

Although tormenting the players over bad rolls can be almost as much fun.

In our discussion, we try to define the broad types of NPCs we find useful in games, talk about possible sources of inspiration, mention a few useful resources and figure out what exactly we need to prepare in advance.

Notes from one of Scott’s scenarios pictured for reference.

This episode’s news segment is a little different than usual. Matt is in the process of moving house, so we couldn’t get together to record our normal last-minute inserts. Paul has picked up the slack and recorded the segment single-handedly, giving us a brief overview of his adventures at this year’s UK Games Expo.  There is also an update on the ongoing Kickstarter campaign for the new Cthulhu Dark corebook, mostly taking the form of an extended interview with Graham Walmsley, which you can find at the end of the episode.

The other casualty of our inability to record inserts was the usual thanks to our wonderful, generous Patreon backers. This is just a delay, however. We still have a new $5 Patreon backer to thank, and we are warming up our vocal chords in anticipation. You don’t escape our singing that easily!


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Episode 105 – The Good Friends illuminate the World of Darkness


The World of Darkness

Episode 105: The World of Darkness

We’re back and we’re sharpening our fangs, picking the nits out of our fur and preparing for some paradox. Born in 1991 out of Vampire: the Masquerade, the World of Darkness has grown, changed and completely reinvented itself many times since. As a result, our discussion covers only the very basics of its history. Simply cataloguing the different game lines, editions and even publishers that make up the different iterations would take more time than we have.

None of us are getting any younger here.

We give most of our discussion over to understanding the appeal of these games. While all three of us have played at least some of the lines, only Matt knows them well, so most of the episode is Paul and Scott asking him questions. Matt’s collection of the books covers his library like gothic wallpaper. Just as importantly, he has written for Onyx Path, one of the current publishers of World of Darkness material, so he speaks with some authority.

Although this authority may not always be respected.

As well as talking about the tabletop gaming world, we also discuss LARPs. No other RPG game line has made quite the same jump to live-action gaming. World of Darkness LARPs have brought many people into our hobby who may never have encountered it otherwise. Again, this is a foreign world to Paul and Scott, so Matt serves as our guide.

Although his tours usually only make it as far as the nearest cocktail bar.

This is the first episode in months to be free of the taint of singing. We did actually have a last-minute $5 Patreon backer, but they came in just too late to make the mix. As regular listeners know to their cost, we thank those generous people who give us $5 an episode with a personalised aural assault that twists their name into the stuff of nightmares. You can look forward to just such an abomination next episode.

Posted in Roleplaying Games, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias | 4 Comments

Episode 104 – The Good Friends puzzle out more of the appeal of investigative games


Investigative Games part 2

We’re back and we’re wrapping up our investigation into, um, investigations. This is the second part of our look at investigative games. Once again, we are joined by Mike Mason, line editor for Call of Cthulhu. Following on from last episode‘s discussion of player techniques, this time we delve into tips and tricks for GMs.

Step 1: gather a good supply of breadcrumbs. Step 2: arrange the breadcrumbs in a trail.

We give over a large part of the episode to the different ways we can create and structure investigative scenarios. Our discussion leads us to analyse what makes a good clue, offer some tips about ensuring the PCs find these clues and flag up some of the possible pitfalls that may stop them doing so.

Although if you look up from your magnifying glass every now and then, you should be able to see the pit before you fall into it.

In our news segment, Matt mentions a few current Kickstarter campaigns. He has helpfully gathered them all together in a single post. We also discuss the upcoming session of Paul’s scenario Gatsby and the Great Race, organised by good friend of the Good Friends, Cory Welch. Cory and friends will be running this at the Nexus Game Fair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the 27th of May.

In our social media catch-up, we offer a dramatic reading of what might be the strangest prose we’ve ever encountered. A spambot produced some cut-up text to offer a spurious download of The Two-Headed Serpent, and the result is the tastiest word salad imaginable.

Westminster is the arab. Thereby viscid settee was being authentically Pulp Cthulhu about the stockholder. Signwriter uncloaks through a joannie. Togs is the epichthyolite. Family is munificently The Two-Headed Serpent toward the bane. In posse aforethought license is the nicholle. Thrillingly afghani slowpoke is a intension. Arabick enoch extremly implacably gets around snarkily for the stagnantly unsophisticated furfur. Sootflakes were the modishly jurassic episcopes. Transrhenane frazzle was decadently boring. Personable jana can round up. Misleading arman can mingle. Serial methadone must plead from the splintered possessorship. Neoprenes can bloat. Pulp Cthulhu is the handsomely deplorable gaiety. Unspoilt reselection infixes. Bearably unvarnished jarrod has quipped from the gastronomic foraminifer. Superfluous aborts were the threnetic multivalves. Concussive spaniel can unfetter per the synthetically drony yardage.

We also mention two conflicting reports of the similarities between Lieutenant Columbo and Detective Kinderman from The Exorcist, following on from our passing mention of them on the previous episode. Evan Dorkin quite rightly points out that the first appearance of Columbo pre-dates the publication of The Exorcist. Then Tore Nielsen sent us a link to an interview with William Peter Blatty where he claims that the creators of Columbo had seen his unpublished manuscript and ripped it off. We shall probably never know the truth.

Especially as the one man who could get to the bottom of it is implicated himself…

When reading Evan Dorkin’s post, we make mention of his Lovecraftian comic, Calla Cthulhu. I’m a huge fan of Mr Dorkin’s work, such as Milk and Cheese and Dork, but embarrassingly, I haven’t read this yet. I shall have to rectify this soon and post a proper discussion.

And, finally, we should warn you that we sing again in this episode. We have two new $5 Patreon backers and we defile their names with our eldritch warblings. This should have cleared the backlog of lovely, generous and brave people to thank, so there may be a song-free episode next time. Unless, of course, a new backer offers themselves up for such unholy immortalisation before then.

Posted in Call of Cthulhu, Comics, Roleplaying Games, The Good Friends of Jackson Elias | 6 Comments